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Full text of "NightRider"

399

He could not see her as she went down the trail. He
watched the open space between the bluff and the house, wait-
ing for her to appear. She emerged from the greenery at
last, and moved rapidly toward the house. A little smoke
was rising from the kitchen chimney, even though it wasn't
much past middle of the afternoon. Then he remembered
that she had brought him the bread. They were baking.

The smoke stood motionless, in a long, grey-blue streamer
that faded out into the clear air, higher than the bluff-
top.

After a little while the girl came out of the house. She
carried a bucket in her hand, and he caught a glint of sun-
light from it as it swayed with her step. Her figure, shrunk
to such a smallness in the distance, moved across the yard
and over the stile into the field by the creek. He saw her
go down the field between the rows of young plants. At
the far end of the field the two men were hoeing. She was
carrying them some fresh water to drink. She approached
them, and their motions ceased, Then the figures were all
together in one place, there at the far end of the field, very
small.

They would unhook their hands from the hoe handle, and
push their hats back a little off the forehead. Their lips
would be dry, and on their teeth would be the slight grittiness
of dust raised from the dry ground. In turn, Willie Proudfit
first, then Sylvestus, they would lift the bucket to the lips and
let the cool water fill the mouth and slip, sweetly and purify-
ingly, into the throat. Then they would thank the girl, and
look inquiringly at the sun, and grip their hoes, and bend
again over the hard earth, each in his way; and the hoes
would rise and fall, unflaggingly. The drouth might come.
The plants which they had placed in the ground might
shrivel and wither there. Or next year the two men them-
selves might not be there. The place might be lost by that
time. Willie Proudfit might be in Oklahoma, there was no
telling. Sylvestus might be gone somewhere. But now their
hoes rose and fell. They were moving down the field, imper-